The Common Good
September-October 2000

In U.K. City, Cops Call Churches

by Ryan Beiler | September-October 2000

In most American "community watch" groups, residents report suspicious
activity to the authorities.

In most American "community watch" groups, residents report suspicious activity to the authorities. But in the "Prayerwatch" program of Nottingham, England, police officers and youth service workers give specific prayer requests (without mentioning names) to local churches, who respond to them in their regular services or in personal prayers. As a result, participants claim, common crimes like petty theft, vandalism, and harassment by gangs have decreased by 10 percent as measured against national trends.

John Robinson, a city council official and evangelical Christian, told Ecumenical News International that social action is also a factor. "You show as best you can that prayer has an effect," Robinson said, "but certainly Prayerwatch has also made churches more hands-on within the community."

Stephen Hackney, minister of a local Assemblies of God church, went even further. "It’s not enough just to pray," Hackney said. "There is a point where, following the gospel command, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Shouldn’t we be doing something?’"

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